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IgM Nephropathy (IgM)

IgM Nephropathy is an autoimmune disease that affects the filters (gomeruli) of the kidneysIgM is an immunoglobulin, which is a part of an individual’s healthy immune system. Immunoglobulin M is an antibody produced by B cells and is normally the first antibody to respond and attack an infection in the body. When an individual has IgM Nephropathy, the immunoglobulin M creates an immune complex and is deposited in the mesangium of the kidney. This inflammation of these deposits damage the kidneys filters causing protein and sometimes blood to leak out of the kidneys and into the urine.

Medically reviewed by Dr. J. Ashley Jefferson, M.D.

Who Gets IgM

Scientist have not found the cause of the defective IgM immunoglobulin in patients who suffer from IgM Nephropathy. It is likely to have both genetic and environmental components.

Signs and Symptoms

IgM Nephropathy presents with Nephrotic Sydrome and symptoms may include:

  • Proteinuria – Large amounts of protein “spilling” into the urine
  • Edema – Swelling in parts of the body, most noticeable around the eyes, hands and feet, and abdomen.
  • Low Blood Albumin Levels
  • Foamy urine
  • High Cholesterol in some cases
  • High Blood Pressure in some cases

Diagnosing IgM

IgM Nephropathy generally presents as Minimal Change Nephrotic Syndrome with the presence of protein in the urine, edema and sometimes blood in the urine. Typically these cases become hard to treat and lead to a kidney biopsy which then shows deposits of immunoglobulin M in the mesangium of the kidneys.

Your Treatment Options

It is important to see a kidney specialist on a regular basis to monitor kidney function, degree of proteinuria, cholesterol and blood pressure.  Since IgM is produced by B Cells medications that suppress the body’s ability to produce B Cells may be considered.

If remission is not obtained, it is important to be on a medication that reduces the amount of protein in the urine. These medications are called ACE-inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors) and ARBs (angiotensin II receptor blockers).

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Clinical trials are another treatment option.

Your doctor helps you find the right study for you. These trials test more targeted treatments with potentially lower risks of side effects.

Some clinical trials enroll patients, based on their genetic testing results, to test the effectiveness of precision-based therapies targeted to specific genetic changes.

Explore

Tips For Living With IgM

Patients with IgM benefit from supportive measures including:

Exercise

Regular, moderate activity helps manage your blood pressure and weight and improves your overall well-being.

Prescription Regimen

Follow your doctor’s instructions and take your medicines as prescribed.

Regular Check-Ups

See your doctor as scheduled to monitor your kidney function and quickly address any changes.

Support

Get help coping with the challenges of living with IgM through support groups like NephCure. Learn more about our how we can support you.

Nutrition

Eat a diet low in salt and processed foods to manage your blood pressure and reduce strain on your kidneys. Learn more about a kidney-friendly diet and get our cookbook.

Your Nephrologist May Also Recommend

1

Diuretics

Diuretics are important as they help manage fluid retention and edema, which are common complications of kidney dysfunction.

2

Anticoagulants

Anticoagulants are essential for rare kidney disease patients to prevent the formation of blood clots.

3

Medications

Blood Pressure medications to lower high blood pressure. Statins to lower the cholesterol level.

4

Vitamins

Vitamins play a crucial role in supporting overall health and mitigating potential complications.

Related Resources

Video

Kidney-Friendly Nutrition | Cooking Seminar

Educational Materials

How Kidneys Work

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Informational Documents

Dealing with Insurance Headaches

Fact Sheet

Nephrotic Syndrome

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